Rou Jia Mo

It has been noted that this meat-filled-bun recipe dates back to the Qin Dynasty, possibly making Chinese Rou Jia Mo the world’s oldest hamburger or sandwich.

Recipe Origin: China

It has been noted that this meat-filled-bun recipe from the Shaanxi province in the north-central part of the country dates back to the Qin Dynasty (221 to 206 BC), possibly making Rou Jia Mo the world’s oldest hamburger or sandwich. It is traditionally made with fatty pork braised using over 20 different spices; however, in the Xi’an region of the same province, beef skewers seasoned with cumin are more commonly eaten than pork due to the Muslim influence. We’ve combined the best of both – braised lean beef with fragrant layers of spices that will have your neighbors knocking at your door! Make your own buns with our recipe or use whole-grain English muffins to soak up all the aromatic pan juices from the beef.

Click here for the homemade Rou Jio Mo Buns recipe.

Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
90 min
120 min


  • 2 tsp coconut oil, divided
  • 2 lb top round beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 pieces star anise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 pieces dried tangerine peels (about 1 inch by 3 inches each)
  • 2 dried arbol chile peppers
  • 1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 4-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 piece black cardamom
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger, sliced into 2 pieces
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce, divided
  • 2 tbsp organic evaporated cane juice
  • 2 cubanelle peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced (with seeds)
  • 4 green onions, coarsely chopped
  • 6 homemade buns or whole-wheat English muffins
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro sprigs


  • Cheesecloth
  • Butcher’s twine


  1. In a wide, deep ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven on medium-high, heat 1 tsp oil. Working in batches if needed, add beef and sear until browned on all sides, turning occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare a spice bag: Cut a 6-inch square of cheesecloth (double thickness), and in center of square, place anise, bay leaves, tangerine peels, arbol chiles, peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, coriander and cumin. Bring edges together and tie tightly with butcher’s twine.
  3. To skillet with beef, add spice bag, yellow onion, garlic, ginger, vinegar, 2 tbsp soy sauce, cane juice and 2 cups water. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally and adjusting heat if necessary so that liquid is bubbling gently, until beef is tender enough to pull apart when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour, 30 minutes.
  4. Strain beef and onions through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl to reserve broth, then discard spice bag and return broth to pan. Bring to a boil and reduce broth by half, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high, heat remaining 1 tsp coconut oil on medium high. Add cubanelle and jalapeño peppers and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in beef and onion mixture, green onions, broth and remaining 1 tbsp soy sauce and cook, stirring and breaking up beef slightly, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
  5. Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium. Working in batches if needed, mist buns or muffins with cooking spray and toast in skillet until crisp and brown on the outside and steaming on the inside. Open buns carefully, leaving 1 side attached. Divide beef and cilantro among buns, pouring any excess broth into buns.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size 1 sandwich
  • Calories 389
  • Carbohydrate Content 37 g
  • Cholesterol Content 92 mg
  • Fat Content 9.5 g
  • Fiber Content 5.5 g
  • Protein Content 41 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 4 g
  • Sodium Content 610 mg
  • Sugar Content 13 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat Content 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat Content 0 g